Sweet and sour sauce (甜酸醬) - Oh My Food Recipes (2024)

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Simple and delicious homemade sweet and sour sauce is great to serve as a dipping sauce for egg rolls, crispy tofu, tonkatsu, , deep fry wontons, or make a sweet and sour pork dish. This homemade Chinese sweet and sour sauce recipe has a few ingredients and it takes around 10 minutes! Let’s learn how to make Chinese sweet and sour sauce with step by step photos, tips and a video tutorial!

Love sauces? Check out these sauces: teriyaki sauce, chili oil, Thai sweet chili sauce, ginger scallion sauce, cranberry sauce, Thai peanut butter sauce, black pepper sauce and XO sauce recipes.

Sweet and sour sauce (甜酸醬) - Oh My Food Recipes (1)

What is sweet and sour sauce?

Sweet and sour sauce is a popular condiment that originated in Chinese cuisine like ginger scallion sauce, XO sauce and chili oil. Now, it has become widely popular in various cuisines around the world. Chinese sweet and sour sauce has a balanced combination of sweet and tangy flavors.

Typically, the ingredients in sweet and sour sauce include sugar or a sweetening agent, vinegar, citrus juice like pineapple juice, soy sauce and ketchup. The sauce has a thick consistency and glossy appearance because of the thickening agents like cornstarch and cooking methods such as simmering.

Besides, Chinese sweet and sour sauce is incredibly versatile. It's commonly served as a dipping sauce for appetizers like egg rolls, chicken nuggets, crispy tofu, tonkatsu, or fried wontons. Additionally, it can be used as a glaze for meats such as pork, chicken, or fish which adds a flavorful finishing touch to stir fry dishes like sweet and sour pork.

What does Chinese sweet and sour taste like?

Chinese sweet and sour sauce has a distinctive flavor. It balances sweetness and tanginess in perfect harmony. The sweetness in sweet and sour sauce comes from sugar and fruit juices like pineapple juice. It provides a pleasant and sweet taste which adds depth and richness to the sauce.

Besides, the sourness is from ingredients such as vinegar or pineapple juice. This tanginess provides a sharp, acidic bite that cuts through the sweetness and creates a refreshing and lively contrast. Also, the sweet and sour elements combine together to create a complex and well rounded flavor that many people love.

How to use sweet and sour sauce?

Sweet and sour sauce is a versatile condiment that can add flavor to a variety of dishes. You can use it as a dipping sauce for appetizers such as chicken nuggets, crispy tofu, tonkatsu, , egg rolls, and fried wontons. Besides, you can use sweet and sour sauce as a base for stir fry dishes, for example the popular and classic Chinese sweet and sour pork dish.

Why do American Chinese restaurants have a bright red sweet and sour sauce?

The bright red color you see in sweet and sour sauce at American Chinese restaurants is red food coloring. The vibrant color is intended to make the sauce visually appealing and recognizable to customers. Also, the use of food coloring to achieve a vivid red hue is a characteristic of many Chinese dishes such as char siu.

Although traditional Chinese sweet and sour sauce may not necessarily have such a bright red color, the American version often emphasizes visual appeal to cater to Western tastes and expectations.

Additionally, the use of red food coloring can also help differentiate sweet and sour sauce from other sauces on the menu. Therefore, making it easier for customers to identify and associate with the sweet and tangy flavor, especially in American Chinese cuisine.

Adding food coloring is very common in many American Chinese restaurants. However, you can opt out of red food coloring and use natural ingredients such as ketchup, tomato paste or beets to yield a vibrant red color. In this homemade Chinese sweet and sour sauce recipe, I use ketchup as the natural color.

Is sweet and sour sauce gluten free?

Sweet and sour sauce can be gluten free by using gluten free soy sauce instead of traditional soy sauce. Also, make sure other ingredients like vinegar and ketchup are also gluten free.

What is Chinese sweet and sour sauce made of?

In this homemade Chinese sweet and sour sauce recipe, the ingredients are 100% pineapple juice, vinegar, salt, ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, cornstarch and water.

Sweet and sour sauce (甜酸醬) - Oh My Food Recipes (2)

You can adjust the amount of cornstarch depending on how thick the sauce you want. When I use it as a dipping sauce for deep fried wonton, crispy tofu, tonkatsu, and egg rolls, I like to use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. However, when I make a sweet and sour pork dish, I like the sauce thicker. Therefore, I use 3 tablespoons of cornstarch to thicken the sauce.

Substitutions:

Do I have to add pineapple juice?

Authentic and classic Chinese sweet and sour sauce, we usually add pineapple juice for the sourness and sweetness. However, you can replace it with vinegar. Remember to taste and add vinegar, brown sugar to balance the taste.

Can I add red food coloring?

Yes, if you like the sweet and sour sauce with vibrant red color like American Chinese restaurants, you can add some red food coloring.

Can I use other starch instead of cornstarch?

Yes, you can use potato starch.

How long does Chinese sweet and sour sauce last?

Typically, this homemade sweet and sour sauce recipe can be stored in the refrigerator for about 1 to 2 weeks.

Storage:

How to store sweet and sour sauce?

The most common way to store sweet and sauce is to refrigerate it. Make sure the container is tightly sealed to prevent moisture from entering, which could lead to spoilage. When using sweet and sour sauce, use clean utensils to scoop out what you need, and avoid double dipping to prevent introducing bacteria into the container. Always make sure the lid is closed tightly after each use.

Can you freeze Chinese sweet and sour sauce?

Yes, you can freeze the sweet and sour sauce and it can extend its shelf life. Transfer the sauce to a freezer safe container, leaving some space at the top to allow for expansion. It can freeze for up to 3 months.

Thaw frozen sweet and sour sauce in the refrigerator before using it. Keep in mind that freezing may slightly alter the texture, but the flavor should remain the same.

Reheat:

Stovetop:

Put the sweet and sour sauce in a small pot. Heat the sauce over medium low heat, then stirring it occasionally to prevent sticking or burning. Continue heating until the sauce is warm.

Microwave:

Or, you can put sweet and sour sauce in a microwave safe bowl. Then, cover the bowl with a wet paper towel and microwave it for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Every 15 seconds take out and stir it until the sauce is heated evenly throughout.

Steam bath:

Besides, you can use a steam bath method to gently heat it up. Place the sweet and sour sauce in a bowl and put it in a larger pot filled with water. Make sure the water level is below half of the bowl. Then, heat up the sauce and stir it occasionally, until it is warm.

Cooking tips for how to make Chinese sweet and sour sauce:

  • I use 100% pineapple juice. Different brands of pineapple juice may taste slightly different, thus you can add more sugar if needed.
  • Add brown sugar, vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, salt and pineapple juice. Then, stir it very well. Turn on a low and small fire. Keep stirring until the sugar melts.
  • After that, in a small container mix cornstarch and water well. You can adjust the cornstarch mixture depending on how thick you want the sauce to be. (I like to use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch when I use the sauce as dipping sauce. However, when I make a sweet and sour pork dish, I like the sauce thicker. Therefore, I use 3 tablespoons of cornstarch to thicken the sauce.)

FAQs:

What kind of pineapple juice do you use?


I like to use 100% pineapple juice from a can of pineapple or soda can of 100% pineapple juice such as Jumex and Dole brands.

Can the sauce be left out?


This is homemade sauce and for food safety, it’s better to keep them in the fridge.

How can I adjust the sweetness or tanginess of sweet and sour sauce?

You can adjust the sweetness or tanginess of sweet and sour sauce by adding more sugar for the sweetness or more vinegar for tanginess. Remember to taste the sauce as you adjust the ingredients to achieve the flavor and balance the taste.

Instructions for how to make Chinese sweet sour sauce:

Sweet and sour sauce (甜酸醬) - Oh My Food Recipes (3)

1. Pour 1 cup of 100% pineapple juice into the pot.

Sweet and sour sauce (甜酸醬) - Oh My Food Recipes (4)

2. After, put ¾ cup of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of vinegar, 3 tablespoons of ketchup, ¼ teaspoon of salt. Stir and mix it well.

Sweet and sour sauce (甜酸醬) - Oh My Food Recipes (5)

3. Then, turn on a small and low fire. Let it simmer for a few minutes until the sugar is melted.

Sweet and sour sauce (甜酸醬) - Oh My Food Recipes (6)

4. In a small container, add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch,2 tablespoons of water and mix it well. (For dipping sauce, I like to use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. However, when I make a sweet and sour pork dish, I like the sauce thicker. Therefore, I use 3 tablespoons of cornstarch to thicken the sauce.)

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5. Next, slowly pour the cornstarch mixture into the sauce and keep stirring when pouring the mixture until the sauce is thickened.

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Enjoy this simple and tasty homemade Chinese sweet sour sauce recipe! Also, check out these lo mien, kimchi fried rice, pineapple cake, taiyaki, hot pot, guava cheesecake, walnut shrimp and red bean paste rice cake recipes.

You May Also Like These Recipes:

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Sweet and sour sauce (甜酸醬) - Oh My Food Recipes (9)

Sweet and Sour Sauce

Simple and delicious homemade Chinese sweet and sour sauce is great to serve as a dipping sauce or make a sweet and sour pork dish. This Chinese sweet and sour sauce recipe has a few ingredients and it takes around 10 minutes!

5 from 13 votes

Print Pin Rate

Course: sauce

Cuisine: American, Asian, Chinese

Prep Time: 5 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes minutes

Servings: 10

Calories: 94kcal

Author: Tracy O.

Equipment

  • 1 Pot

Video

Ingredients

  • 1 cup 100% pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons Soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Vinegar
  • ¾ cup Brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Ketchup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

THICKEN SAUCE:

  • 2 tablespoons Cornstarch (For dipping sauce use 2 tablespoons, for sweet and sour pork dish use 3 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons Water

Instructions

  • Pour 1 cup of 100% pineapple juice into the pot.

  • After, put ¾ cup of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of vinegar, 3 tablespoons of ketchup, ¼ teaspoon of salt. Stir and mix it well.

  • Then, turn on small and low fire. Let it simmer for a few minutes until the sugar is melted.

  • In a small container, add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch,2 tablespoons of water and mix it well. (For dipping sauce, I like to use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. However, when I make a sweet and sour pork dish, I like the sauce thicker. Therefore, I use 3 tablespoons of cornstarch to thicken the sauce.)

  • Next, slowly pour the cornstarch mixture into the sauce and keep stirring when pouring the mixture until the sauce is thickened.

Notes

Cooking tips for how to make Chinese sweet and sour sauce:

  • I use 100% pineapple juice. Different brands of pineapple juice may taste slightly different, thus you can add more sugar if needed.
  • Add brown sugar, vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, salt and pineapple juice. Then, stir it very well. Turn on low and small fire. Keep stirring until the sugar melts.
  • After that, in a small container mix cornstarch and water well. You can adjust the cornstarch mixture depending on how thick you want the sweet and sour sauce to be. (I like to use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch when I use the sauce as dipping sauce. However, when I make a sweet and sour pork dish, I like the sauce thicker. Therefore, I use 3 tablespoons of cornstarch to thicken the sauce.)

Nutrition

Calories: 94kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 306mg | Potassium: 75mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 24IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1mg

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Sweet and sour sauce (甜酸醬) - Oh My Food Recipes (2024)
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